Time for a DTR: BLUEcloud Visibility and Libraries Define their Relationship
It’s been almost a year now since BLUEcloud Visibility debuted on the market. There has been much excitement and change. Linked Data and Libraries are the ideal couple. They were made for each other! The past year has clearly been the start of something beautiful, but the foundation of any good relationship is good communication. So let’s get this conversation started. It’s time to dig in and look at the substance of what’s really there. It’s time to talk about the dishes and the thermostat. Semantic Web and Linked Data experts have long agreed that library visibility is a long-term commitment, not a whirlwind fling. Now that we’re nearing a first anniversary, let’s look at the real numbers and talk about what the future looks like for libraries and BLUEcloud Visibility.
SirsiDynix had 3 early-adopting customers that implemented BLUEcloud Visibility at the beginning of 2016. As forerunners laying the groundwork of a new network, the early adopters showed promising statistics. The analytics showed that, within the first quarter of adoption, 13,000 search engine users were connected to those libraries’ catalogs.
Perhaps the most important analytic, is that the early adopters noted a jump in the percentage of new users to their catalogs. After their records were published to the Library.Link Network, the BLUEcloud Visibility libraries found that, of visitors to the catalog, 87% were new. Keep in mind though, this enormous increase has been shown to taper off and that’s a good sign. As new users become repeat visitors the metrics shift.
Where is this Going?
Historically, we know that engine algorithms have progressed over time and we can expect that they will continue to evolve. The experts at Zepheira anticipate that algorithms will be forced to change in response to the surfeit of authoritative information flooding the internet as library records are published to the Web. Even before the advent of the Library.Link Network, the nature of search engine results has changed to a degree that has been disruptive to the market. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has changed to so much that many professionals no longer use the term SEO.
The experts tell us that looking for Page 1 placement has become an overly simplistic metric of success. Organizations looking to measure their online presence and seeking to plan for the future need to consider more complicated metrics, like how deeply into a site is a user drawn, how long the average user remains on the page, and how many users return to your site. Google and other companies are moving down a path toward search engine AI, in which web-crawling computers learn to recognize authoritative information. As companies progress farther down the AI path, our understanding and definitions of relevance will change completely. We cannot fully anticipate all that those changes will mean, but we can anticipate that Page 1 can no longer be considered the finish line. Organizations looking at their web presence need to shape their relevance goals around proving that they provide information that is useful.
The Proof is in the Pudding
We know that the future holds change for libraries and their data, but even with this knowledge we can look to the numbers BLUEcloud Visibility has accrued so far to get a sense of what the future might hold.
Let’s start by looking at the Network as a whole. The Library.Link Network boasts:
- Over 1,000 services points or locations publishing full collections
- 1,000s of Local Link Graphs now available for claiming and set up
- Over 30,000,000 items transformed
- More than 100,000,000 resources and 300,000,000 links created and published for harvest
This data amounts to a moderately-sized network with highly authoritative and consistent data. These last two qualities are features for which search engines show a strong preference.
Narrowing the focus now to SirsiDynix and our BLUEcloud customers:
- SirsiDynix currently has more than 60 customers who have purchased BLUEcloud Visibility. (Keep in mind, a customer can represent one library, a few libraries, or a large consortium like the RSA consortium that represents 143 member libraries but only counts as a single customer. Read more about RSA and their web visibility here.)
- More than 50 BLUEcloud Visibility customers at over 1,000 locations are live and published on Library.Link. These published customers serve over 18,000,000 patrons and populations of over 27,000,000
- Thus far, BLUEcloud Visibility analytics have tracked 7,000,000 impressions, 200,000 clicks, 47,000 referrals to catalog, and 39,000 new users to catalog.
- More than 120,000,000 MARC records have been transformed into BIBFRAME resources by BLUEcloud Visibility.
And one final number, looking at the potential and future for BLUEcloud Visibility:
- If all SirsiDynix libraries were on BLUEcloud Visibility, there would be over 20,000,000,000 BIBFRAME resources.
As the first year of BLUEcloud Visibility and Zepheira’s Library.Link Network draws to a close, the empirical numbers prove that Linked Data is making a difference in libraries’ open web visibility. Libraries are seeing more and more web traffic.
Look at your goals and determine what role the Web plays in your mission. If you know that sooner or later you will make the commitment, you’re just waiting for the network to become larger because that’s what engine algorithms favor, keep in mind that’s only one part of the equation. Engine algorithms also favor seniority. Web visibility is a commitment, and the sooner you invest in your visibility, the greater the long-term rewards.